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September 10, 2012

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Ted

I agree that this is a minor snafu blown out of proportion and, as much as I would love to see our part-time mayor gone, it would be a bigger travesty for it to occur this way. All of his other examples of breaking the law were bigger and more significant than this breaking of the law.

And it is breaking the law, however, minor. You have a few of your underlying facts wrong.

First of all, the soliciting donations was not a conflict of interest. It was a direct breach of the Code of Conduct of City Hall. Dumb or not, over-reaching or not, Councillors are specifically told not to use there letterhead for anything but City business.

Second, given the above, it was a clear breach of the Code of Conduct. Period. Ford should have said "oops, my bad, sorry" and moved on. But he had to escalate.

Third, the Integrity Commissioners - like Integrity Commissioners everywhere at every level of government - is given very limited powers of remedy, i.e. she doesn't have a lot of ability to tailor the punishment to fit the crime. That is the fault of the City and the mandate they give her. She made considerable effort to get Ford to back down, including several meetings (I'm told) and 6 public letters (available for all to read). Ford still did nothing. So she did the only thing she could in the face of someone completely ignoring her role.

Fourth, City Council (under Miller) voted to require Ford to comply with the Integrity Commissioner's letters. In this, I think Ford is justified in saying they over-reached their authority because I don't think they passed the motion correctly or had the power to fine one of their own. So the motion was dumb, partisan and without force. And THAT should have been Ford's basis for attack.

Fifth, instead, he got his cronies to re-vote that motion instead when he became mayor. This all goes away if they simply vote that the motion is withdrawn because it was wrong. It all goes away if Ford admits a simple, small "whoopsey".

Sixth, the Municipal Conflict of Interest Act has a definition of conflict of interest which is not quite the same as the definition you provide, but it is close. Taking a strict reading, I don't see how voting on a resolution about your own punishment can be described in any way but a conflict of interest. That one is just such a brain dead argument that it raises more questions about Ford than all of the other partisan stuff thrown at him. I mean, come one! Not only that, but it is expressly in the conflict of interest manuals he admitted he never bothered to read and was explained at the information sessions for councillors he admitted he never bothered to attend. Again, though, Ford bullys ahead: instead of saying whoops again, my bad, ending this, he doubles down.

Seventh, the Act does not give the court much leeway. If he was in conflict - and he clearly was - then they must can him. It's sort of like a mandatory minimum sentence, if you will (funny how now that's a bad thing). However, there is an out: if the judge finds him to be in conflict inadvertently (which he wasn't) or in error of judgement (which he clearly was). But the judge would have to ignore his own testimony in which he is stupidly unrepentent in any tiny bit for any single little thing he's done.

I hope the judge gives him a stern reprimand for being such an idiot but ignores his own testimony and finds it to be an error of judgement to avoid the bigger travesty of taking away a legitimate election result.

Ford's conduct with this tiny piffle of an issue was bullheaded but not ultimately grievous, but his testimony really does show him to be a very dumb and petty person, quite unfit for high office. I don't have any affection for the petty anti-democratic activists bringing this claim, but all of this could have been avoided.

Sometimes doing the right and smart thing means doing the right and smart thing.

Cincinnatus

Thank you for your informative comment.

And yes, I do agree that Rob Ford has handled this matter terribly from the get-go, being in effect his enemies' best ally.

social enterprise

Thank you for your informative comment.

And yes, I do agree that Rob Ford has handled this matter terribly from the get-go, being in effect his enemies' best ally.

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